In 1975, Morocco and Mauritania shared between them the territory of the former Spanish Western Sahara. A liberation movement supported by Algeria, the Polisario Front, opposed this situation and launched devastating raids, mainly into Mauritania. To help this country, in 1977-1978, France carried out operation Lamantin. It consisted of surveillance and attack aircraft stationed in Senegal, and small Army teams deployed in Mauritanian garrisons. Zouerate, a small Northern town where a very important iron ore mine produced 1/6 of the country's GNP, had been the target of two attacks before the French team came. The missions of these eight paratroopers, quite similar to some of the US Special Forces, were to comfort the European technicians, assess the situation, advise the Mauritanians, prepare the air strikes, and secure a possible downed aircraft.